A Desperate World


No matter where you live on our planet, the countries are filled with hatred, selfishness, a lack of compassion and empathy. People who are marginalized in their countries are angry and want change. They lack the education or the will to use positive tools to bring justice and peace to the world. Guns, hatred, meanness, rifles, bombs, and attacking perfect strangers will not make your life better or happier.

Every person wants to make their life better.  You need to do this. You can do this. You don’t need to cause pain and suffering if that is what is in your life. Your life can be improved. Many people have done just that.

 

The desperate  state of the world calls us to action. Each of us has a responsibility to try to help at the deeper level of our common humanity. Unfortunately, humanity is too often sacrificed in defense of ideology. This is absolutely wrong.

 

Political systems should actually benefit human beings, but, like money, they can control us instead of work for us. Humankind must seek harmony among nations, ideologies, cultures, ethnic groups, and economic and political  systems.When we truly recognize the oneness of all humankind, our motivation to find peace will grow stronger.

 

In the deepest sense we are really sisters and brothers, so we must share one another’s suffering. Mutual respect, trust, and concern for one another’s welfare are our best hope for lasting world peace.

 

Of course, national leaders have a special responsibility in this area, but every individual must also take the initiative, regardless of religious belief or political affiliation. Just by being human, by seeking to gain happiness and avoid suffering, you are a citizen of this planet. We are all responsible for creating a better future.

 

To achieve a friendly attitude, a warm heart, respect for the rights of others, and concern for their welfare, you must train the mind. All forms of meditation cultivate an attitude of compassion and calm. It creates a state of mind particularly crucial in human society today for its power to yield true harmony among nations, races, and people from diverse religious, political and economic systems.  WE ARE ALL ONE!

 

 

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My neighborhood pond, Autumn.   Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2013

At my development.Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

What the world needs now

What the world needs now

Another way towards peace


Today, across the world, Jewish people are celebrating Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement.  It is a day when Jews all over the world fast and pray.  They repent their sins and they ask the Beloved, and each other, for forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not all they pray for, however, nor do they pray for only themselves.  Jews pray for forgiveness and peace for all peoples, all of God’s children, with the understanding that all of the peoples of Earth are One People, One Family of Man, and that all deserve all the peace, love, kindness and charity that we have to give one another.

 

In my travels through the world, and my quest for understanding of the Divine, I have attained a few Yom Kippur prayers and poems, which I would like to share with you.

 

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We pray with all our hearts:  let violence be gone; let the day come soon when evil shall give way to goodness, when war shall be forgotten, hunger be no more, and all at last shall live in freedom.

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Birth is a beginning

And death a destination

And life is a journey:

From childhood to maturity

And youth to age:

From innocence to awareness

And ignorance to knowing:

From foolishness to discretion

And the, perhaps, to wisdom

From weakness to strength

Or strength to weakness –

And, often, back again;

From health to sickness

And back, we pray, to health again;

From offense to forgiveness,

From loneliness to love,

From joy to gratitude,

From pain to compassion,

And grief to understanding –

From fear to faith;

From defeat to defeat to defeat –

Until, looking backward or ahead,

We see that victory lies

Not at some high place along the way,

But in having made the journey, stage by stage,

A sacred pilgrimage.

Birth is a beginning

And death a destination.

And life is a journey,

A sacred pilgrimage

To live everlasting.

May Every Heart Beat with Peace like the Beating of the WIngs of a BIrd.   Photograph and Copyright by Barbara Mattio 2013

May Every Heart Beat with Peace like the Beating of the WIngs of a BIrd. Photograph and Copyright by Barbara Mattio 2013

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The Importance of Hope in Today’s World


 

In Wales, Nato is meeting to address the dual problems of ISIL and Russia. It is also a time of increased racism here in the United States. The world is tense, you can feel it as you go about your regular life. I want to encourage you to remember that peace starts within us. Hope and peace live within and is touched by the Divinity within. Our hearts and souls are very important in our lives. We just are not really aware of them.

 

Our hearts have been attacked more than once in the last few months. Mother Earth is screaming in pain. 16 million children live in poverty in America, we really have no idea of how many people in Iraq and Syria have been killed and or displaced. Now ISIL members are discussing moving into India. That country is filled with a billion people. They have just been served notice that the darkness is now planning moves to disrupt their country and families.

 

What can one person do? One person in France, Belgium, India or America can do a lot. We can keep giving love, peace, hope, compassion and empathy flowing out from our hearts and souls into this world. We must believe that, in the big picture, that good will conquer the hatred and bigotry that we are up against. Our spirituality can be the engine that pulls us ahead and keeps us focused on what can be done rather than what can not be done. We may suffer, I may suffer but if we lose our lives, we will return home to the Divine presence of God.

 

“At night make me one with the darkness, in the morning make me one with the light. ”   —Wendell Berry

 

“Just to be is a blessing, Just to live is holy.”   —Rabbi Abraham Heschel

 

” As we are together, praying for peace, let us be truly with each other.

Let us pay attention to our breathing.

Let us be relaxed in our bodies and our minds.

Let us be at peace with  our bodies and our minds.

Let us return to ourselves and become wholly ourselves. Let us maintain a half-smile on our faces.

Let us be aware of the source of being common to us all and to all living things.

Evoking the presence of the Great Compassion, let us fill our hearts with our own compassion, towards ourselves and towards all living beings.

Let us pray that all living beings realize that they are all brothers and sisters. all nourished from the same source of life.

Let us pray with ourselves to live in a way which will not deprive other beings of air, water, food, shelter, or the chance to live.

With humility, and with awareness of the existence of life, and of the sufferings that are going on around us, let us pray for the establishment of peace in our hearts and on earth. Amen.   —Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

 

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Truth

 

The face of truth is open,

The eyes of truth are bright,

The lips of truth are ever closed,

The head of truth is upright.

The breast of truth stands forward,

The gaze of truth is straight,

Truth has neither fear nor doubt,

Truth has patience to wait.

The words of truth are touching,

The voice of truth is deep,

The law of truth is simple:

All that you sow you reap.

The soul of truth is flaming,

The heart of truth is warm,

The mind of truth is clear,

And firm through rain or storm.

Facts are but its shadows,

Truth stands above all sin;

Great be the battle in life,

Truth in the end shall win.

Wisdom”s message its rod;

Sign of truth is the cross,

Soul of truth is God.

Life of truth is eternal,

Immortal is its past,

Power of truth will endure,

Truth shall hold to the last.   —Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

 

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Cup and Ocean

 

“These forms we seem to be are cups floating in an ocean of living consciousness.

They fill and sink without leaving an arc of bubbles or any good bye spray.

What we are is that ocean, too near to see, though we swim in it and drink it in.

Don’t be a cup with a dry rim, or someone who rides all night and never knows the horse

beneath this thighs, the surging that carries him along.”   —Rumi

 

 

 

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I Forgive You


Sacred writings usually show God as a forgiving God. The unity of the religions each show a different side of Divinity. When I was a child, I tried to grasp forgiveness. I was suspicious of why I should forgive. I had and have an alert which goes off in the face of hypocrisy and injustice. They are  the two things which I cannot tolerate. So, of course, the Universe gives me opportunities to practice forgiveness. Practice brings a healing to yourself. This is something most people don’t realize:  forgiving another heals us.

 

Buddha told a story of a man who had been slighted and who was angry with justice.  Buddha stated that the man decided he was going to remain angry. Time passed and he held on tightly to his anger. It began to worm itself into his heart and soul.  He became a different man. He was bitter, resentful and filled with hatred. Buddha says that anger that we hold on to  is like holding onto a hot piece of charcoal in our hands. The anger tightens the hold the hand has on the burning charcoal. The result is that you are left with a terrible burnt palm. The anger has left you scarred and damaged. The person who needs to be forgiven has no idea that anything has happened. Whether he feels sorry or not for the original action, has no effect on the outcome. The only thing that would change the situation would be the words, I forgive you.

 

In the Torah, there are instances of Moses talking with G-d and reminding him that he promised to forgive his people.  “Pardon  the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your mercy, as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now. G-d’s answer was I have pardoned according to your word.” These words of forgiveness by G-d  become the central theme of the Jewish High Holidays. These holidays are coming up in September. Because of God’s forgiveness the Jewish people, despite its shortcomings, exists to this very day.

 

This is relevant to today because we so often hear news stories where forgiveness is the major point. I remember when the Pope forgave Ali Mehmet who shot him in Rome. It raised  tremendous controversy. Studies actually show that it is more life-changing to forgive than to be forgiven. There are many stories, though, of people who are forgiven changing their lives and becomiing the person they were meant to be.

 

One such story, is about  an idealistic California college student who won a Fulbright Scholarship to travel to South Africa to assist the anti-apartheid movement; she went there and was murdered by a black mob during a riot. Her parents grieved for years, then decided that they should honor the work that their daughter had been so dedicated to. So they quit their jobs, sold their home and walked away from their comfortable middle class life. Eventually, the parents met two of their daughter’s killers. The two men, who have been pardoned, tried to atone for their actions by doing public service for a foundation the parents established in their daughter’s name. The parents forgave the two killers and they became friends, and the young men now call the mother, “Mom.”

 

Forgiving what has been done to you,  and offering forgiveness for what you have done to another, is a concept that needs to be remembered and chosen in today’s world. It is a life-changing experience to decide to forgive. It is an important act to do in your life. It is one of the things we have moved away from in this so-called modern world. We have also left behind generosity, compassion, kindness, and gentleness. When we begin to put these concepts back into our lives, we will be on the road to peace. Peace within ourselves and throughout the entire world.

 

 

 

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Don;t let the sun go down on your anger. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2012. Sunset in the Caribbean.

Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2012. Sunset in the Caribbean.

 

 

Winter - Snow - Peace

Genocide


I have had to do some very difficult thinking. As you already know, I am a pacifist. I do not believe in war. War brings nothing but violent destruction, resentment, anger, bitterness. It brings all that we are fighting so hard to eliminate.

 

I am working for peace by bringing light, kindness, compassion and goodness to push out the darkness, the pain and the horror hanging over our world. I think we may be making some progress. But the fact that genocide is involved in the conflict in Iraq changes my heart and mind. Genocide is the game changer.

 

This isn’t the first time homo sapiens have been the victims  of or the perpetrators of  an evil desire to eliminate certain nationalities or religions. The radical group ISIS has killed many of the men of the minority group Yazidi. Thousands of women, elders and children have fled with whatever the could carry. Children have been brutally killed and women have been told they will be married to the ISIS soldiers,  a horrible fate for these women. Some may be sold. As we have discussed, human slavery is rampant in our world. Pray in your way for all of these people. May we be successful in stopping the carnage.

 

Genocide is wrong. It is the only reason for a conflict or a war. We have fought to stop genocide in the past and we have stepped back from other cases of genocide. I believe that we all must do what we can to stop genocide. There is no reason to kill our brothers and sisters because they are different. We are a civilized world, at least compared to the world historically. On behalf of Jews, Poles, Gypsies, Croats and many others have been in the position of being the victims of genocide. I must say, there is no reason for genocide. WE ARE ALL ONE.

 

Our POTUS is considering a larger humanitarian mission to rescue the thousands who have been stranded on a mountaintop. I can’t support us getting into a war. I can and do support  stopping genocide. It is indefensible and we can not let it go. Pray for the dead victims and pray for those on the mountain to survive and to be able to begin their lives over again in safety.

 

 

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Dove of Peace

Dove of Peace

 

 

Yazidi Refugees Recount Desperate Struggle To Flee Islamist Militants In Iraq

by Sophia Jones, Posted to Huffington Post 08/12/2014 4:14 pm EDT Updated: 1 hour ago

 

SILOPI, Turkey — The Omers’ journey to safety was the stuff of nightmares: gun-wielding militants firing on cars of screaming children, tens of thousands of people trapped on a mountain, mothers keeping dehydrated babies alive with their own saliva.

It took nine days for Omer Omer and his wife, Baraa, both 60, to make the desperate trip with their family from the town of Sinjar in northwestern Iraq to the relative safety of Silopi, a border town in southeast Turkey. After hardline militants from the Islamic State captured Sinjar earlier this month, vowing to kill members of the Yazidi religious minority unless they converted to Islam, they fled to Mount Sinjar, along with tens of thousands of other civilians. They say they were stuck there in the blazing heat for five days without food or water as people perished around them.

Now the Omers, their faces sunburned and covered in rashes, are seeking refuge with 22 family members and neighbors in a tiny, rundown concrete home in Silopi. The house, occupied for the first time since it was built years ago by Turkey’s Housing Development Administration, is part of a makeshift camp set up here in the past week. According to local aid workers, there are are some 700 Yazidis at the camp and about 800 others seeking refuge around Silopi in other makeshift camps and homes. They consider themselves the lucky ones.

“When we left our village, the Islamic State was shooting at our car,” Baraa says as flies buzz around her. “There were eight people in our car and people were running alongside us trying to hide themselves.”

Looking down, she adds, “My disabled cousin was burned in her house.”

Baraa’s family says that heavily armed members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party(PKK), a group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and the United States, saved their lives by escorting them and other Yazidis from Sinjar, battling Islamic State militants along the way. They say that without the PKK’s help and a car to drive to the mountain — many of their friends and neighbors fled on foot — they wouldn’t have survived.

Busra Saeed rocks her son, Waseem, as she recounts her journey from Iraq to Turkey.

The Omers’ 26-year-old daughter, Busra Saeed, says that the most harrowing moment of her journey was not when the militants lit her neighbors’ homes on fire, or when bullets started flying, but when she crossed the Hezil Suyu river from Iraq to Turkey.

“The river was breast-deep,” she says while holding her 2-year-old son, Waseem. “I thought I would lose him.”

As the Islamic State continues to gain more territory in Iraq with the goal of creating an Islamic caliphate, it has reportedly killed at least 500 Yazidis, burying some alive. While some people who fled to Mount Sinjar have been rescued by helicopters and others have managed to reach Turkey, Syria or safer parts of Iraq, the death toll is climbing daily. Another day on the mountain is another day without adequate food, water, medical attention or shelter.

Sitting in the excruciating summer heat, refugees here exchange horror stories as children around them stare blankly into space. The refugees have one word for what the Islamic State is doing to their people in Iraq: genocide.

“How can we go back there?” Baraa asks, her lilac-colored dress matching her husband’s tunic. “They will kill us.”

Refugees in a makeshift refugee camp in Silopi, Turkey, are living in small, dilapidated homes built by the country’s Housing Development Administration.

Baraa says that one of her neighbors called her a few days ago and said he had witnessed militants kill a pregnant woman and cut open her belly. Stories of women and children being used as sex slaves run rampant in the camp. A United States official confirmed last week that some women are being sold or married offto Islamic State fighters.

Just days ago, Baraa and her family were eating leaves to survive. Now, they’re living off donations from Silopi locals and volunteer aid workers. The family has even received medical treatment for diabetes, paid for by Kurdish locals.

But the refugees wonder how long they can survive on donations from generous strangers.

“People here share their things with us, but how will they do this for a year, two years?” Omer asks.

Yazidis desperately seeking sanctuary in Turkey find a cash-strapped country already facing a crippling refugee crisis. More than 800,000 registered Syrian refugees — and many more without permits — have poured over the border in the past three years to escape the civil war in their country, settling in refugee camps, crowded apartments and even bus stations.

Like many Syrians who came before them, Yazidi refugees here say that smugglers are charging hefty fees — around $600 per person — to sneak people without passports or papers across the border. Many Yazidis fled in the middle of the night, some of them still in their pajamas, so they didn’t have a chance to grab large amounts of cash. Most could not afford such a large fee in the first place.

Hundreds of Yazidi refugees sit under tents in a makeshift camp to escape the heat.

Some Yazidis who lack proper documentation have been turned away at the border by Turkish guards, refugees say, while others have been detained. Outside of a school here now being used as a detention center for undocumented Yazidis, Turkish security officials holding assault rifles pace next to exhausted refugee families. After a week of barely surviving, they now find themselves prisoners in a foreign land.

Several mothers in Silopi say they had to leave their children behind with other family members because they don’t have passports for them. They are waiting to somehow get the appropriate paperwork or find a way to smuggle their children across. They say they’re not going back to Iraq — not ever.

Back at the makeshift refugee camp, a short drive from the detainment center, Omer says he considers himself and his fellow Yazidis stateless.

“This is the end for us,” he says, as his family sits in silence around him.

 

 

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Yazidi people flee for their lives

Yazidi people flee for their lives

 

 

Yazidi refugees being taken out by helicopters who are dropping bundles of humanitarian aid.

Yazidi refugees being taken out by helicopters who are dropping bundles of humanitarian aid.

 

 

 

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Give Peace a Chance


 

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I’m sure most of your are aware of the recent  72-hour “Cease Fire” that nearly happened between Hamas and Israel.

 

The thing about Cease Fires and Peace in general is that it takes work, and understanding and a desire to accept wha t the other person can give as a first step in a longer road.

 

Peace is not a destination, is it a long path that must be followed and which takes many steps and stumbles along the way.  It is possible, but it takes not just the will and the desire, but the commitment to the path as well as to the destination.

 

Any cease fire, between nations or tribes or spouses or friends, includes a certain amount of compromise, and we all must be able to recognize that the final result — the cessation of hostility and the return to a normal, peaceful and secure existence for both parties — is worth not getting everything we want.

 

Each person must make the decision to work towards peace each day.  Each country must decide each day that the process of peace is worth the effort.

 

Peace must start — can only start — with the internal peace that we, as human beings, all strive for.  Each day, we must try to find the peace within ourselves and to project that, to share it, with the rest of the world.

 

Each day, we must all — individuals and countries alike — decide to Give Peace a Chance.

 

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What the Soul Needs Now


One Human Gesture

 

You have a source inside you, a cool spring that sometimes stops flowing, frozen

or clogged with silt. A voice says, ” Consider the situation more deeply, my friend.”

Such advice is not idle. It is immediate  companionship with a soul artist like David,

who works iron until it melts and he can shape it. Spirit is the art of making what’s

blocked start moving again. When your body dies, give it to the death angel,

Israfil. If your heart feels numb and metallic, walk out into the sun, or whatever

the mystery is that makes your inner spring well up. There was once a sage who felt

this flow moving inside him. As he walked the garden that

was being restored with

spring water, he gave names to aspects of the vital dance he was doing: the animal’s

hungry agility and the connoisseur’s intelligent choice.

Blessings on Hakim

Sanai, who could put those two in one gesture.

—Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

 

 

I hear nothing in my ear

but your voice. Heart has

 

plundered mind of all its

eloquence. Love writes a

 

transparent calligraphy, so on the empty page my soul

 

can read and recollect.

—Rumi

 

 

Do these words by the much-loved reggae icon Bob Marley really resonate with the average Jamaican? I would say a resounding "no."